Assistant Professor, Public History, Colorado State University

Baa Ram U! Sheep be true!

Dear Friends,

Although the blogosphere can usually be fairly characterized as a bunch of malcontents b!tching about one thing or another, I’m pleased to report a tiny sliver of sunlight piercing the clouds of darkness and despair:  my department is running a search for the first time in four years!  We are looking for a specialist in public history to contribute to our public history M.A. curriculum as well as to teach undergraduate courses in hir area of specialization.  The big news here is that we are open to any subfield, globally and temporally.  This search is neither limited to American historians, nor to any particular emphasis in public history.  From the h-net posting:

The Department of History seeks to fill a position in Public History open to any subfield.  Entry-level Assistant Professor, tenure-track, nine-month  position beginning August 15, 2012.  The Ph.D. in History or related field must be completed by the time of employment.  The preferred candidate will contribute to the department’s undergraduate and graduate curriculum and programs.  Applications are invited from candidates who offer promise of significant research and publication and who can work effectively with faculty, students, and the public.  Send letter of interest, vita, graduate transcripts, evidence of teaching effectiveness, three letters of recommendation, and a writing sample (article or chapter length) to Dr. Janet Ore, Chair, Public History Search Committee, Department of History, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO  80523-1776.  Applications will be considered until the position is filled; however, to ensure full consideration applications should be submitted by January 15, 2012. 

If you are trained in public history and/or have experience in the field, please take a look at our current faculty and our graduate public history curriculum as it exists, and make the best case you can for what you can do for us.  Our current faculty in public history include the search chair, Janet Ore, who is an architectural historian and a historic preservationist, and Jennifer Fish-Kashay, who is a museums and material culture specialist.  (The Museum Studies Option is especially popular with our students, so we are open to applications from other museums and material culture experts.)  Although we have an adjunct lecturer who offers two undergraduate public history courses per year, they are not currently taught by regular faculty.

We offer a 2-2 load to our regular faculty, and the person who gets this job will have a central role in training our graduate students.  Furthermore, the 320 days of sunshine, the aridity, and the proximity to big water, resort and backcountry skiing, and the Rocky Mountains are part of the package.  Because we have T.A.-ships for all of our grad students now (which includes tuition remission as well as a stipend), we attract excellent students because we’re offering them the opportunity to earn a master’s degree for free.  So it’s a good deal both for the students and for the faculty who work with them.

I can answer some broad questions in the comments here, but I would prefer that any of you who might be interested in the position direct your specific queries to the search chair, Janet Ore.

14 thoughts on “Assistant Professor, Public History, Colorado State University

  1. Amazing, Historiann — Baa Ram U, CU Denver (2 positions, in fact, I think, U.S. pre 1860 and America West), Mountain Lion U (that would be my place, UCCS), and CSU Pueblo all conducting searches at the same time (admittedly ours is because of a completely unexpected anonymous endowment for East Asian History, but still . . . ). We preach public history in our M.A. program as a career path, glad to see you all are hiring in that. what a deal for your grad. students, I didn’t know that.

    A sliver of sunlight indeed for the Front Range and northwards. Take a look at state budget projections down the road if you want the sliver to go into total eclipse. But for the moment, we can celebrate.


  2. Public history is history outside of the classroom, broadly speaking. The three tracks of our public history M.A. program are historic preservation, museum studies, and cultural resource management. Other public history fields include: archives, litigation support, material culture, and the ambiguous but intriguing field known as “digital history” or the “digital humanities.”

    Our grads are working in history & natural history museums, house museums, archives, historical societies, and in a variety of capacities for the U.S. government (National Parks Service, National Forest Service, etc., plus many agencies keep their own archives & so choose to employ archivists & historians, too.) In fact, I’m sure that if we include people who teach at state universities, the U.S. & state governments combined employ more historians than any other entity.


  3. My impression is that they tend to be free-lancers or to work with an agency or a group that’s involved in a lot of legal actions (for example, an Indian nation pursuing mineral rights, actions against the U.S. government, etc.) But I am not certain about this, as I’m not a public historian myself & have no training in the field.


  4. Historians are sometimes hired by law firms, more often I would think on a duration-of-the-case basis, or in some other “outwork” capacity, to provide research or analytic services to litigation teams. More often, probably, as expert witnesses. The diametrically opposing testimony of two scholars in EEOC v. Sears Roebuck & Co. [1986], on the treatment of women in hiring and promotion decisions, remains a pretty fraught issue. [see T. Haskell and S. Levinson, “Academic Freedom and Expert Witnessing: Historians and the Sears Case” 66 _Texas L. Rev._, 1988, @ 1629, and K. Jellison, “History in the Courtroom: The Sears Case in Perspective,” _The Public Historian_ 9 (1987)].

    I worked for eleven months during grad school for a small boutique law firm, almost entirely on one case, doing things as mundane as moving boxes and being yelled at to bird-dogging events at public agency meetings relevant to the case to more traditional kinds of research. The guy who I primarily bird-dogged for, a smart but tempermental and fairly disorganized litigator who had gotten an MA in history before going to law school, did me the great favor of always introducing me to people, high and low, as “a historian who’s doing some work for us,” rather than “a guy who never moves the right boxes in the right order at just the right time…,” and I always appreciated that.


  5. Indyanna, my grad students and I read several articles on the EEOC v. Sears case (the Jellison article you mention, the offers of proof published by Jacquelyn Dowd Hall inSigns, an analysis by Ruth Milkman, and the review post-facto by Alice Kessler-Harris that was published in RHR and in Feminist Studies. They were pretty demoralized about how one could be the better historian and lose the case anyway.

    But, as I’ve argued here repeatedly, historians do nuance, and nuance isn’t really appreciated outside of history. (At least it’s not what they’re looking for instrumentally in law, politics, policy, etc.) So what, precisely, is the point of us, I wonder sometimes?


  6. I did some historical work for an asylum case out of Walla Walla, WA back in 2005. They had been denied asylum by DHS after 13 years of waiting for a decision. So they took it to court on appeal. The main applicant contacted me and asked me to help him. Afterwards I was contacted by his lawyer. I worked on it pro-bono, but the applicants won their case on appeal. My work basically consisted of writing a history of the persecution of their ethnic group in their home country. They were ethnic Germans from Kazakhstan. I understand that historians of Latin America and the Middle East get similar cases and sometimes even get paid for it.


  7. Public / oral history is really, really hot right now. There are several searches going on right now, according to the job wiki and H-net . Is it because these fields can get grants and other outside funding? Does anyone have any insight on this?


  8. Henry, you’re right, although I think our job at CSU is probably the most attractive in terms of R-1, teaching load, and location. I think the reason that PH is so hot now is that students can get jobs in the field, and the terminal degree is the M.A. Our grads have a great employment record, anyway.

    I think it’s also getting more popular in part because the big professional organizations (OAH and AHA) have made concerted efforts over the past decade to promote public history and to erase any lasting snobbery against public history & public historians (the idea that PH was mere vocational training, versus the “real” “intellectual” work of academic history & historians.) Finally it seems like people are listening.


  9. Meh, I am a little more skeptical than you I guess. These oral history programs often turn into “let’s tape military veterans memories then turn them into flag-waving bastions of conservative history.” This has happened at 3 major R-1s in my state.


  10. I’m intrigued by the anecdotal suggestions of a trend towards ‘public history’ and ‘oral history’–perhaps especially because I am a medievalist. Public and oral history seems so powerfully focused on “here” and “now” (or at least “living memory”). I’d love to see historians’ (or Historiann’s) take on the implications…


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